CBS New York is reporting that charges are pending against a Brooklyn driver whose passenger was killed in a crash early Monday morning. Police have said that the driver faces charges of DWI, manslaughter, reckless driving, and criminally negligent homicide. The driver was speeding on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway when she hit the divider. A backseat passenger was thrown from the vehicle. The passenger died at the scene.
If convicted of the litany of charges against her, the driver faces incarceration. Under New York State law, A blood alcohol content between .08 and .18 constitutes DWI; blood alcohol above this falls into the category of aggravated DWI. Driving while intoxicated is a misdemeanor, so by definition the driver faces no more than one year jail time for this offense. The other misdemeanor that the driver faces is reckless driving. New York Vehicle and Traffic law defines reckless driving as driving or using any motor vehicle…in a manner which unnecessarily interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” As with the other misdemeanor charge, the maximum sentence for this is one year in jail.
More serious are the felony charges facing the driver. To be found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, an individual must cause the death of another person with criminal negligence. In other words, the negligence must be of such an extreme nature that it is punishable as a crime. In New York, criminally negligent homicide is a Class E Felony. An allowable prison term for Class E Felonies in New York State is between one and a half and four years. The final charge, listed by CBS as simply manslaughter, seems to make more sense as vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, due to the nature of the circumstances involved here. The applicable standard for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree for this case would be Penal Law section 125.12(1). This section of the statute states that a person is guilty when he or she causes the death of another person, and is in violation of section 1192(2) of the vehicle and traffic law (the DWI misdemeanor referenced earlier). Second Degree vehicular manslaughter is a Class D felony, and as such is punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison.
These charges, and their accompanying potential terms of incarceration, display the severity that can arise out of driving under the influence of alcohol. A young woman is dead, leaving behind a family to move on without her, and the driver faces years behind bars. The story is a reminder of the dangers and consequences of DWI.
Website resource: Driver In Fatal Brooklyn Crash Faces Manslaughter Charges; CBS New York